Last Word on Baseball is back with your fantasy baseball waiver targets of the week. This week, Kevin Newman and a couple Oakland A’s stand out. At the bottom, see how last week’s targets have fared.
For the sake of continuity, ESPN leagues are the baseline, and for a player to make this list, they must be rostered on no more than 50% of teams across the site (rounded to the nearest whole number). Slash lines are AVG/OBP/SLG. The list is in no particular order.
Kevin Newman, PIT, SS/2B (17% rostered)
Last 7 days: 32 AB, .531/.559/.938, 10 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB
After an up-and-down minors career, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Kevin Newman is looking more like what the Pirates hoped for when drafting him 19th overall in 2015. The 26-year-old is still rookie eligible, playing only 31 games last season with almost nothing to show for it. This year has been a totally different story. For the year, Newman is slashing .313/.357/.448, with 47 R, 10 HR, 52 RBI, and 13 SB in 107 games.
Newman finished the month of August hitting .317, adding four homers and 16 runs driven in across 27 games. He stole four bases and crossed home plate 19 times, as well. Prior to this season, Newman had been somewhat of a disappointment to Bucs fans. A standout at the University of Arizona, Newman’s minor league career was sometimes very good and sometimes very underwhelming. This year, he seems to have put the missing pieces into place. He’s showing more power than he ever has, including in college, and he’s consistently getting on base. If you’re lacking middle-infield production, give Newman a look. Especially if your league values OBP.
C.J. Cron, MIN, 1B (42% rostered)
Last 7 days: 25 AB, .360/.407/.920, 7 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB
Minnesota Twins veteran C.J. Cron is on his way to having the best season of his career so far. Right now his line is .262/.321/.498, with 24 HR and 75 RBI, the latter of which is already a career-high. With a month of baseball left to play, he could improve on his career-best 30 homers from a season ago.
Cron burst onto the scene this year with a monster May. That month he hit .299, had a .963 OPS, hit eight homers, and had 21 RBI. June was more of the same Cron we’ve grown accustomed to, and then in July he only managed to play in eight games. He rebounded in a big way in August — the average wasn’t great, but he had six homers and 20 RBI in 20 starts (23 total appearances). He’s homered in four of his last six games, including each of his last three. Cron has always been a bit of a streaky hitter, and right now he’s scorching hot, providing fantasy owners with a nice source of power in these final weeks of the season.
Mark Canha, OAK, OF/1B (33% rostered)
Last 7 days: 29 AB, .310/.412/.724, 8 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB
Veteran slugger Mark Canha is enjoying quite the breakout season, yet is still widely available in ESPN leagues. In 101 games so far this season, the Oakland Athletics outfielder is slashing .275/.390/.544, with 23 homers and 49 RBI. His OPS sits at .935 right now, a full 157 points better than his career mark set last year.
Extending his numbers to the past 28 days, Canha has been sensational. In that time, he’s hit .322 and accumulated a 1.002 OPS. Going all the way back to the All-Star break, Canha has slashed .317/.411/.585 in 43 games, adding 11 homers and 27 RBI. If not for a pretty terrible month of June, his season numbers would be even better. July was a solid month as far as power is concerned, but he exploded in August, slashing .347/.434/.602 in 25 games. Canha has simply been raking for a month straight and overall has been very good. Make sure he’s on your team and not someone else’s moving forward.
Seth Brown, OAK, OF (2% rostered)
Another A’s outfielder has been red-hot, though admittedly in a much smaller sample size. Rookie Seth Brown, a 19th round pick in 2015, has a hit in five of his first six career games, with three of those being multi-hit efforts. He doesn’t have any homers yet, but he has more RBI than games played so far, with seven.
Though he has no home runs yet, it shouldn’t take long for Brown to launch his first career bomb. The 27-year-old seems to be a bit of a late bloomer, as this year he’s launched a whopping 37 home runs for Las Vegas in Triple-A. In 112 games there, Brown had a .297/.352/.634 slash line. His 37 homers are second-best to Kevin Cron, who smashed a ridiculous 38 in only 82 games (so keep that name in the back of your mind). Brown has waited a long time to see MLB action, and now that it’s finally here, he’s making every moment count. If that Triple-A power can start showing up, Brown could be a huge steal for your team.
Archie Bradley, ARZ, RP (43% rostered)
Last 7 days: 1-0, 5.1 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, 1.69 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 4 SV/HD
Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley has been a completely different pitcher since the All-Star break. Before that point, he had a 4.95 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 35 games. Since, he’s posted a 2.05 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 21 games. Additionally, all 10 of his saves have been since the break.
Finding a reliable closer at this point in the fantasy season is virtually a pipe dream. But in over half of ESPN leagues, the MLB saves leader for the month of August is still out there. The Diamondbacks have been playing very good baseball lately, going 16-11 last month. They currently sit 3.5 games out of the NL Wild Card, and with only a month to go, they’ll fight to keep their hopes alive. Bradley should see plenty of opportunities moving forward. He’s shown elite ability at times throughout his career, and he’s trending back toward that type of production at just the right time — both for the D-Backs and fantasy owners alike.
Last week‘s list and their performances over the last seven days:
Dakota Hudson: 1-0, 7.2 IP, 8 K, 2 BB, 4.70 ERA, 0.78 WHIP
Willie Calhoun: 23 AB, .174/.200/.348, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Hanser Alberto: 18 AB, .500/.500/.556, 3 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Tom Murphy: 20 AB, .200/.273/.350, 3 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Kyle Seager: 24 AB, .250/.357/.458, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB
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